Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mexican Chop Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

Living in the Pacific Northwest has its perks.  Lots of fresh air, beautiful natural landscapes and loads of hiking, kayaking, and even snowshoeing just outside.  One unexpected aspect of living in the great northwest is the lack of Vitamin D in the winter.  Due to our northern location and distance from the equator, our winter sun does not provide adequate (or any) amounts of Vitamin D.  That is, when the sun decides to peek out from behind the clouds and grace the good people of Washington with its golden bounty. 
Around August summer has shed its last glorious rays of sunshine and by November and December I start to feel the need for more nourishment.  Good old, grown from the earth and filling my every cell kind of nourishment. That's when it's green smoothies for breakfast, spirulina shots and salad for lunch and warming, hearty soups for dinner.  Life is looking pretty tasty!  Today I'm sharing with you my PNW secret: Eat Your Sunshine!!  When there is no sun outside just whip up sun grown yumminess for your insides!  Eating brightly colored fruits and vegetables like peppers, lettuce, squash, and tomato will transfer liquid sunshine in the form of phytonutrients right to your body. Eating them fully raw will ensure you get the highest amount of nutrient possible from what you're eating.  Make winter salads your new go to dish to keep that vegan glow all year round.
Today, I found myself with some leftover black beans that I had made the day before. Wanting something fresh but filling on this cold (and snowing soon, I hope!) day, I decided to make this beautiful salad that was so delicious it has made it to the blog.  My ingredient list for the salad is really just a rough guideline, use what you have on hand or what ingredients you love the most. Try shredded cabbage, corn, mushrooms, asparagus, cucumber, zuchinni, or anything you have.  The beauty of this salad is not only the color, so add lots of variety, it is the incredibly versatile dressing that will pair well with most vegetables.  I hope you guys love it as much as I did!  Here we go:
Mexican Chop Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette
Makes 2 salads
4 cups romaine, chopped
3 sweet peppers, seeded, julienned
1 tomato, seeded, diced
1 carrot, julienned
1 soft yellow squash, diced
1/2 cup black beans, cooled
pinch of vegan cheddar shreds, optional
1/4 cups fresh cilantro, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. cumin
pinch of sea salt
Add all of your salad ingredients to a large bowl and toss.  For the dressing, add all ingredients to a blend and blend until it is creamy and well blended.  Dress and toss the salad.  Enjoy!
Now before you guys start thinking that Washington skies are always grey, don't forget the power of a glorious sunrise.  Even through the clouds :)

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